Olga Romanov

BIRTH: 15 November 1895
Alexander Palace
, Tsarskoye Selo, Saint Petersburg Governorate, Russian Empire

DEATH: 17 July 1918 (aged 22)

Ipatiev House, Yekaterinburg, Russian Soviet Republic

 

Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia (Olga Nikolaevna Romanova) was the eldest child of the last Tsar of the Russian Empire, Emperor Nicholas II, and of Empress Alexandra of Russia.

Her family and friends often called her Olga Nikolaevna or her nicknames "Olishka", "Olenka" and "Olya". Among her godparents was her great-grandmother Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. Olga was closest to Tatiana, with whom she shared a room and often dressed the same, becoming known as "The Great Pair".

Olga had blond brown hair, bright blue eyes, a wide face and a snub nose. When she was 10, her tutor Pierre Gilliard reflected that she was "very clear", with "bright, mischievous eyes and a slightly withdrawn nose".

Olga was known for her benevolent heart and willingness to help others since her early years, but also for her temper, direct honesty and bad temper. Once as a child she lost her temper while sitting down for a painter, saying "You are a very ugly man and I don't like you at all!"

Nicolau's children were raised in the simplest possible way, sleeping in rigid camping cots unless they were sick, taking cold showers every morning.

She liked to read and, unlike her sisters, she also liked going to school. "The eldest, Olga Nicolaevna, had an extraordinarily fast brain," wrote her Swiss tutor Pierre Gilliard, "She had great powers of rationalization as well as initiative, she had a very independent attitude and a gift for responding quickly." Olga liked to read about politics and also newspapers, supposedly choosing her readings from her mother's book collection.

When she was 20, she took control of a portion of her sizable fortune and began to respond independently to requests for charity. One day when she was out for a drive she saw a young child using crutches. She asked about the child and learned that the youngster's parents were too poor to afford treatment. She set aside an allowance to cover the child's medical bills.

Despite all her intelligence, Eagar said that Olga had little experience of the world because she lived practically in isolation. She and the sisters did not understand the concept of money as they never had the opportunity to shop in stores or to see money being exchanged.

She even said during a history class that she was happy to live in the contemporary era, since, according to her, people were good and not bad as they used to be.

Olga was musically gifted. Her teachers said that she had "an absolutely correct ear."
Baroness Sophie Buxhoeveden reflected that, "She could play by ear anything she had heard, and could transpose' complicated pieces of music, play the most difficult accompaniments at sight, and her touch on the piano was delightful. She sang prettily in a mezzosoprano. She was lazy at practising, but when the spirit moved her she would play by the hour."

Olga was fascinated with heaven and the afterlife. In November 1903, the 8-year-old Olga learned about death when her first cousin, Princess Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine, died of typhoid fever while on a visit to the Romanovs at their Polish estate. "My children talked much of cousin Ella and how God had taken her spirit, and they understood that later God would take her body also to heaven," wrote Eagar. "On Christmas morning when Olga awoke, she exclaimed at once, 'Did God send for cousin Ella's body in the night?' I felt startled at such a question on Christmas morning, but answered, 'Oh, no, dear, not yet.' She was greatly disappointed, and said, 'I thought He would have sent for her to keep Christmas with Him.'

"As a teenager her main characteristics were a strong willpower and a singular habit of sincerity in thought and action," wrote Anna Vyrubova, a friend of the empress, who recalled Olga's temper and her struggles to keep herself under control. "Admirable qualities in a woman, those same characteristics were occasionally difficult to deal with in childhood, and Olga when she was a little girl was sometimes uncontrollable and disobedient." The Grand Duchess idolized her father and wore a necklace with the image of Saint Nicholas. Like her sisters and brothers, she enjoyed playing tennis and swimming with Nicholas during the summer holidays, often confiding in him while taking long walks alone.

Although she also loved her mother, her relationship with Alexandra was a little distant during her adolescence and early adulthood. "Olga is always the most reticent about all the proposals, although she always ends up doing what I command," wrote the empress to the emperor on March 13, 1916, "And when I am severe, it makes me angry."

Olga occasionally found her mother's attitude tiring. Olga complained in 1913 with her grandmother to Empress Maria Feodorovna about her mother's disability: "As usual, her heart is not well. It's all so unpleasant." Queen Mary of Romania met all the Grand Duchesses when they visited Romania in 1914, commenting in her memoirs that the girls acted naturally and confided in her when Alexandra was not around, however when her mother arrived "they always seemed to be attentive to their expressions as if they were sure to act according to her wishes ".

Olga's relationship with Rasputine fell as she grew up, becoming aware of how his friendship with his parents affected the nation's stability. She wrote in her diary the day after the murder that she suspected that her cousin, Grand Duke Demetrius Pavlovich of Russia, was involved in the death of "Father Grigory". Her suspicions were correct, with Demetrius and Prince Felix Yussupov, her cousin's husband Princess Irina Alexandrovna of Russia, being among the murderers.

Valentina Chebotareva, a nurse who worked with Olga during the war, wrote that the Grand Duchess commented to her a month after the murder that although it may have been necessary for Rasputin to have died, it should not have been "so terrible" . Olga was ashamed that her relatives were involved in the incident.

There were discussions before the First World War of a marriage between Olga and Prince Charles of Romania, but she did not like him. During a visit to Romania in 1914, the Grand Duchess struggled to find subjects to speak to the prince. Carlos's mother was also unimpressed with Olga, thinking that her manner was very abrupt and that her broad face was not pretty. Edward, Prince of Wales and eldest son of King George V of the United Kingdom, and Alexander, Crown Prince of Serbia, were also discussed as possible suitors, but none in any serious way. Olga had told Gilliard that she wanted to marry a Russian and stay in her country. She said that her parents would not force her to marry someone she did not like.

During the 1st world war Olga and Tatiana to new experiences. The girls liked to talk to the other nurses in the hospital, women they would never have known had it not been for the war, knowing their children's names and family histories.

Olga worried and felt sorry for the soldiers she helped to treat. However, the stress of taking care of injured and dying men eventually had its effects on the sensitive nerves of the Grand Duchess. Her sister Maria reported in a letter that Olga broke three panels of a window with an umbrella. She received arsenic injections in October, then a treatment for depression and nervous disorders. Baroness Sophie Buxhoeveden, one of the empress's chaperones, recalls that the Grand Duchess had to give up being a nurse and just supervise the hospital wards because she had been "exhausted of herself" and "nervous and anemic" for all the pressure that was going through.

According to the reports of some servants, Olga knew of Russia's political and financial state during the war and revolution. She was also supposed to be aware that a lot of the Russian people did not like their parents, she understood the general situation better than any other member of her family, including even her parents. Olga had few illusions about what the future held for them, and as a result she was often sad or worried. "

The imperial family was arrested during the Russian Revolution and Nicholas was forced to abdicate the vise in March 1917. They were imprisoned first in Tsarskoye Selo and then in Tobolsk and Yekaterinburg. "Honey, you must know how terrible everything is," wrote Olga in Tobolsk to a friend.

In another letter from Tobolsk, Olga wrote that "Daddy asks ... to remember that the evil that is now in the world will become even more powerful, and that it is not the bad that conquers the bad, only love ...".

The family was separated from Tobolsk in April 1918 when the Bolsheviks transferred Nicholas, Alexandra and Maria to Yekaterinburg. Olga, Tatiana, Anastásia and Alexei remained behind because the tsarevich was suffering from another hemophilia attack.

Some time later they received a letter from their mother advising them to sew their jewelry on their own clothes to try to hide it from the Bolsheviks, as she, Nicholas and Maria were aggressively searched when they arrived in Yekaterinburg and had their belongings confiscated.

The remaining children and servants boarded the Rus in May 1918 to take them from Tobolsk to Yekaterinburg.

The imperial family was put to live in Casa Ipatiev. Olga and her sisters eventually needed to wash their own clothes and learn how to make bread. The Grand Duchesses took turns to keep the Empress company company and care for the Tsarevich, who was still in bed suffering from his most recent wound. It was said that during her last months of life, Olga was very depressed and had lost a lot of weight. "She was thin, pale and looked ill," wrote guard Alexander Strekotin later, "she took a few walks in the garden and spent most of her time with her brother." Another guard remembers that she was "looking sadly in the distance, making it easy to read her emotions" the few times she went out for a walk.

On the night of 16 July 1918, the whole family was executed in the basement of Casa Ipatiev.

Olga was forced to watch the death of her beloved sister Tatiana (who was at her side) before she herself was killed with the rest of the family, on the night of 17 July 1918. Even after her death, her former tutor, Pierre Gilliard, discovered a prayer written by her inside a book he had managed to rescue from the "House for Special Purposes".

Olga Nikolaevna was murdered at the age of 22. She is buried in the Peter and Paul Fortress, Saint Petersburg in Russia.

In 2000, Olga and her family were canonized as Bearers of the Passion for the Russian Orthodox Church. The family was previously canonized in 1981 by the Russian Orthodox Church abroad as Neomártires.

© 2019 made by Mark Margo

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